A federal court of appeal on Tuesday upheld most of the convictions of two former allies of former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in the closing case. George Washington Bridge corridor, a scandal that helped derail Christie's presidential hopefuls in 2016.
Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were convicted in 2016 of a conspiracy to provoke traffic jams to punish a mayor for failing to accept Christie's candidacy for re-election.
The 3rd US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Tuesday dismissed the civil rights conspiracy charge, but upheld the wire fraud, wire fraud and misuse of property convictions. an organization receiving federal funds. Baroni and Kelly had asked that all charges be dismissed.
The count of civil rights was punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment, while the convictions for wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy each involved a maximum penalty of 20 years. Expenses of misuse of property are punishable by up to five years.
Both should be returned. Kelly is currently facing an 18-month sentence, while Baroni is sentenced to 24 months. They could also request that the 3rd complete circuit hear the case.
Their lawyers did not immediately comment on Tuesday's decision.
In their minutes, Kelly and Baroni's lawyers had stated that their civil rights convictions were based on a right to travel within the territory that had not yet been recognized by the Court. supreme.
Kelly was the author of the famous "time for some traffic problems at Fort Lee" an email a month before three lanes of access to the bridge were reduced to one, without notice to local authorities.
The huge four-day block and one-fifth in September 2013 resulted in a scandal dubbed "Bridgegate" that dampened Christie's presidential aspirations and, conceded later, Christie conceded, played a role in the decision of Republican candidate Donald Trump not to call his racing mate.
Baroni was deputy executive director of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, which operates the bridge, and Kelly was Christie's assistant chief of staff. A third defendant, David Wildstein, a former Christie High School comrade who reported to Baroni at the Port Authority, pled guilty and testified against Baroni and Kelly.
The testimony of the accused and several other people at the trial contradicts Christie's account of traffic jams. Christie has never been charged and has never been deprived of prior knowledge or involvement in the alleged scheme.
Kelly and Baroni also argued in their appeals that the wire fraud charges they were convicted were unduly based on actions that did not deprive the government of funds or property, and that the government misapplied the law governing Fraudulent use of facilities receiving more than $ 5,000. in federal funds.
The defendants also sought a trial in error because the US judge Susan Wigenton informed the jury that he did not have to find that the government had proved the existence of a political conspiracy behind the realignment of the way to declare the accused guilty.